Sunday, May 15, 2011

Doors (Reflections on the Gospel of the Fourth Sunday of Easter, John 10:1-10)

“Amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture… I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

A few years ago, while still teaching at Providence College in Rhode Island, I was running a couple minutes late for my philosophy class. I was in such a rush, that I entered the classroom without looking at anybody, just fully concentrated and focused on the lecture I was giving that day. I had also just gotten out of a nasty cold so I wasn’t feeling too well either. Usually, as soon as I walk into the room, students would stop chatting so I didn’t look around when I noticed the students were silent. I figured they were just being their usual respectful selves.

I put my books and lecture notes on the table, stood behind the lectern, put my hands together, bowed my head, closed my eyes and began to pray as I always do at the beginning of class: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” Ordinarily, my students would join in praying. Not this time. “Okay, so they’re not praying with me today; no problem”, I thought to myself.

When I finished praying, though, I looked up and realized why it had been so very quiet. It wasn’t my class! These guys weren’t my students, and it wasn’t my classroom. I went into the wrong door and into the wrong room. “Oops! Sorry folks. I guess I’m fast becoming an absent-minded professor. Just tell your real professor you’ve already prayed. That’s one less thing for him to do”. We all ended up laughing as I left and found my way to the right classroom.

There are many doors and gates we enter throughout life. Some are the right ones, some are wrong ones. Some are good, some are bad. Some lead us to become better persons. Others harm us. Some doors embarrass us. Still others lead us to regret having entered them.

Doors are like the choices and decisions we make. Think of some of the choices or decisions we’ve made that have left us embarrassed, or feeling guilty and disappointed about ourselves. Some even make us regret the course we’ve taken and wish we could undo our mistakes.

And just as it’s easy to enter the wrong door when we’re not paying attention, it isn’t hard to lose our way through life as well. There are, after all, many doors and many paths that can be more interesting, more convenient and more enticing than doors that lead us to Christ.

The fact is, the world is full of things that are infinitely more pleasing and desirable than Christ. Have you noticed how He seems to have become an inconvenience, even a nuisance to many in today’s world? But that is understandable. “The road to life is narrow. The road to destruction is wide”, Scripture tells us.

In today’s reading, Jesus invites us to choose the narrow road to life and to enter the door that leads to the right choices and correct decisions. He is the door to Life. “Whoever enters through me will be saved”. He offers himself to us today as the door leading to everlasting life, and he asks us to enter into Him. He invites us to trust that he guides us, and that if we choose his path, we shall not be disappointed.

“Though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; for you are at my side. With your rod and your staff, you give me courage”.

Jesus promises to make it worth our while. He does not guarantee an easy, comfortable and convenient life, but does promise a great, fulfilling and meaningful one.

“I am the sheep gate”, he says. “Whoever enters through me will have eternal life”. If we want our lives to be the same, Jesus shows us the way. He asks us to enter into Him. It isn’t going to be easy. But we can be certain it will be the door that leads us to life.

"The Kingdom of Heaven is a condition of the heart." (Friedrich Nietzsche)